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Surgical management of gallbladder cancer

Richard Swanson, MD
Bhoomi Mehrotra, MD
Section Editors
Stanley W Ashley, MD
Kenneth K Tanabe, MD
Deputy Editors
Wenliang Chen, MD, PhD
Diane MF Savarese, MD


Gallbladder cancer is an uncommon but highly fatal malignancy with fewer than 5000 new cases diagnosed each year in the United States. Most gallbladder cancers are found incidentally in patients undergoing exploration for cholelithiasis. Tumor is found in 0.25 to 3.0 percent of patients undergoing cholecystectomy [1-4]. The overall poor prognosis associated with GBC is related to the often advanced stage at diagnosis. For patients with early stage (T1) disease, long-term survival rates range from 85 to 100 percent. Unfortunately, fewer than 10 percent of symptomatic patients and only about 20 percent of patients with incidentally diagnosed gallbladder cancer have early-stage disease.

The surgical management of gallbladder cancer is reviewed here. The clinical evaluation and diagnosis of gallbladder cancer and nonsurgical management of gallbladder cancer are discussed elsewhere. The management of cholangiocarcinoma is reviewed separately. (See "Gallbladder cancer: Epidemiology, risk factors, clinical features, and diagnosis" and "Adjuvant treatment for localized, resected gallbladder cancer" and "Treatment of advanced, unresectable gallbladder cancer" and "Treatment of localized cholangiocarcinoma: Adjuvant and neoadjuvant therapy and prognosis".)


The gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped organ that is located inferior to the margin of the right lobe of the liver (figure 1).

The gallbladder is divided into distinct segments: the fundus, body, infundibulum and the neck [5].

The fundus is the expanded end of the gallbladder that projects away from the margin of the liver. It is anatomically associated with the anterior abdominal wall and hepatic flexure of the colon.


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Literature review current through: Sep 2016. | This topic last updated: Feb 22, 2016.
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